Business and management degrees are a popular choice for many, being specifically designed to prepare students to enter the world of work and progress their careers.
The only problem is that the job of "businessperson” or “manager” will not simply be waiting for you once your studies have been successfully completed.
So what jobs should a business graduate be looking for?
In reality, a business management degree will prepare you to take up a range of roles in a variety of areas across a business – often in any industry, too.
The sheer extent of opportunity a business degree brings, however, presents a further problem: what, in general, are potential employers looking for from graduates with business and management backgrounds?
Here is our guide to where to take your business degree, from what positions and work areas are most suitable to how you can sell your skills to potential employers and land a full time job.
Common jobs for business graduates
Many business and management degrees are specialized. You might be taught with a particular emphasis on, for example, finance, global development, the creative economy, or international business.
The focus of your degree should enhance your skills in a particular area, but shouldn’t rule out your opportunities in others.
The most common types of job for business graduates to enter into are:
Marketing and communications
Business strategy / development
Accounting and finance
Client / customer care
These areas are well suited to business graduates due to the blend of hard and soft skills typically acquired during business and management degrees.
What employers are looking for from business graduates
Business graduates will tend to be blessed with a broad and multi-purpose skill set, and will be assumed by employers to be interested in a wide range of business areas.
As a business graduate, you should have acquired a solid understanding of how a business functions, and can therefore offer expertise relating to a broad range of core issues and strategic concerns.
You will, however, have to work your way up from the bottom with most entry-level positions. So your strategic mindset may need to take a back seat for a while.
There are in fact a range of hard and soft skills that employers are looking for from business graduates that will demonstrate you have what it takes to meet expectations in a variety of roles.
You will have to show you have potential while demonstrating the skills you have today.
While business graduates may be expected to fill non-specialist positions that do not necessarily require high-level technical abilities, the “hard” skills you do possess will be extremely valuable when applying for jobs.
There are a number of such skills that will complement your knowledge of management, strategy, and how businesses function:
Statistical / data analysis
Foreign language proficiency
Programming and IT skills
If your business degree involved a specialization, you will most likely have gained hard skills suitable to whatever field or industry your studies were preparing you for.
Depending on the type of position you are applying for, you will want to emphasise how the hard skills you do possess prepare you take on the responsibilities of the job.
While hard skills may be considered an added bonus in a business graduate, boasting an impressive array “soft” skills will be expected. Such skills are often required in management positions, and are crucial to contributing across a number of different business areas.
Business graduates will be exposed to the value of soft skills during their studies, and will want to gain greater experience early on in their career as a way to enhance these skills.
You will be expected to offer some or all of the following:
Project management and organization
Strong written and verbal communication ability
Teamwork and collaboration
Creativity and open-mindedness
Such skills will help you succeed in any role and, taken together, serve as a very promising skill set to start any career.
Without much experience to point to, you will want to demonstrate these skills through your personality and behaviour during your interview, in addition to discussing your understanding of their importance in the workplace.
How to ace your interview
As a business graduate you may find that a lot is expected of you in a job interview.
Employers expect business graduates to be more professional than most, with strong business acumen, good interpersonal skills, and effortless communication abilities.
This can be a lot to live up to.
First things first, make sure to look the part.
Secondly, you should come prepared to answer the most common interview questions with confidence. (As well as more unorthodox ones).
Suitability prepared and looking your best, be sure to give a good account of both the soft and hard skills you can bring to the role. When talking about your education make sure to be clear about how your knowledge of business management can directly support your ability to carry out the required tasks of the role you’re interviewing for.
Potential employers will expect you to be ambitious, so don’t shy away from being clear about your career goals. Having designs on a management position in the future shouldn’t impair your ability to meet the expectations of the position you’re interviewing for today.
Finding work with a business degree
Business graduates are in high demand thanks to the breadth of skills they offer to a business, and thanks to the potential they have to become leaders in the future.
Business graduates with leadership potential will be equally sought after for big multi-national companies as for startups and other small businesses.
It’s just up to you which direction you’d like your career to go in. At a smaller company you might be able to get much closer to the top of the organization much faster, contributing on a strategic level and gaining leadership experience early in your career.
On the other hand, larger companies often have greater opportunities for career progression and more resources dedicated to training and skills development for ambitious employees with clear potential.
Graduate programmes in particular offer business graduates an ideal start to their career and, as a consequence, can be highly competitive. These positions are often highly-structured and involve rotations across different business areas. They are also designed specifically for graduates with leadership potential, and are more focused on training and development than other graduate jobs.